and Baptists had gained a considerable following in the neighbourhood of Bradford
by 1660 and the first Methodist chapel opened in Bath in 1756. W. Doel, in his
book Twenty Golden Candlesticks ( 1890), records that, at the beginning of the
1800s when St Mary's was one of the chapels belonging to the Vicar of Bradford's
parish, 'there was a small parishchurch, which was the only place ofworship, and
this stood some little distance from the village proper. ..the spiritual interests
of the villagers were sadly neglected, a service being held at church once a month
only.' It was recorded in The Church Rambler published in 1876 that 'one curate
had to perform the duties of five or six churches at wide distances throughout
very hilly country. In consequence there was a
service at Limpley Stoke once a month, when the accumulation of duties. ..were
hurried through and the clergyman hastened on to 'do' another parish later in
the day. Thus, an old man who died on 30th March, 1875 aged 67 stated that his
mother was churched, he was baptised and his father was buried on the same day.
This state of affairs existed until about 1812.
In 1811 a room was taken and licensed in Limpley Stoke for Baptist worship. In
1815 the people started to build their own chapel which opened on Ist January,
1816. The same year 19 people were baptised in the River Avon near
Limpley Stoke Bridge and received into the church. On December 25th, 1820, 19
members were dismissed from the church in Bath and formed into a Baptist church
at Limpley Stoke.
In 1829 when the chapel had 80 members, William Huntley, a native ofLimpley Stoke,
was chosen as pastor.He remained in office for 55 years and was active until close
to his death. He died on 15th June, 1884 and was the first nonconformist to be
buried in StMary's churchyard. Duringhis ministry the chapel prospered, a Sunday
School was formed and baptisms continued to be carried out in the river. The chapel
was pulled down soon after Mr Huntley's death and rebuilt at a cost of £300
on the same site, with seating for 150 people. The project was greatly assisted
by Mr William Mack who had come to live in Chatley House a few years previously.
(Their memorial tablets were transferred to St Mary's Church in 1988. Mr Huntley's
was placed on his grave and Mr Mack's was hung in the tower).
In 1890 the chapel had 35 members, four Sunday School teachers and 40 scholars;
in 1915,42 members, four teachers,18 scholars and two lay preachers; and, by 1949,52
members, three teachers, 15 scholars and one lay preacher. Sadly, the chapel closed
in the 1970s and was sold for use as a house. The frontage was taken back about
12 feetm and re-erected in the same style by David Aitcheson.